Midnight Ride, Industrial Dawn: Paul Revere and the Growth of American Enterprise

Midnight Ride, Industrial Dawn: Paul Revere and the Growth of American Enterprise

by Robert Martello


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Midnight Ride, Industrial Dawn: Paul Revere and the Growth of American Enterprise by Robert Martello

Paul Revere's ride to warn the colonial militia of the British march on Lexington and Concord is a legendary contribution to the American Revolution. Midnight Ride, Industrial Dawn reveals another side of this American hero's life, that of a transformational entrepreneur instrumental in the industrial revolution.

Robert Martello combines a biographical examination of Revere with a probing study of the new nation's business and technological climate. A silversmith prior to the Revolution and heralded for his patriotism during the war, Revere aspired to higher social status within the fledgling United States. To that end, he shifted away from artisan silversmithing toward larger, more involved manufacturing ventures such as ironworking, bronze casting, and copper sheet rolling. Drawing extensively on the Revere Family Papers, Martello explores Revere's vibrant career successes and failures, social networks, business practices, and the groundbreaking metallurgical technologies he developed and employed. Revere's commercial ventures epitomized what Martello terms proto-industrialization, a transitional state between craft work and mass manufacture that characterizes the broader, fast-changing landscape of the American economy. Martello uses Revere as a lens to view the social, economic, and technological milieu of early America while demonstrating Revere's pivotal role in both the American Revolution and the rise of industrial America.

Original and well told, this account argues that the greatest patriotic contribution of America's Midnight Rider was his work in helping the nation develop from a craft to an industrial economy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780801897580
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date: 09/27/2010
Series: Johns Hopkins Studies in the History of Technology
Edition description: 20
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 412,738
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Robert Martello is an associate professor of the history of science and technology at the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Paul Revere: Patriot, Artisan, Manager, and Recordkeeper 4

Craft, Industry, and the Proto-industry Transition 6

1 Artisan, Silversmith, and Businessman (1754-1775) 11

Growing Up in Colonial America 15

Paul Revere: Artisan 20

Paul Revere: Silversmith 36

Paul Revere: Networker and Businessman 52

2 Patriot, Soldier, and Handyman of the Revolution (1775-1783) 61

Patriot Resistance and the Role of Artisans 63

"Listen my children and you shall hear..." 75

After the Ride: Martial Longings and the Pursuit of Honor 78

Mechanic for the Revolution: Engraving, Mill Design, and Cannon Casting 83

3 Mercantile Ambitions and a New Look at Silver (1783-1789) 91

Quest for Gentility: The Would-be Merchant 94

Return to Silver: Products, Methods, and the Shift toward Standardization 102

Technological Advances: The Rolling Mill and Sheet Silver 107

Labor Practices: Combining Old and New 111

4 To Run a "Furnass": The Iron Years (1788-1792) 119

Iron from Antiquity to America 122

Revere the Founder: Climbing the Iron Learning Curve 130

Technology: Equipment, Production Methods, and Products 139

Labor in the Post-Artisan Mode 142

Raw Material Availability and Environmental Impacts 146

Capital Concerns: Sales, Profits, and Management 151

5 Bells, Cannon, and Malleable Copper (1792-1801) 156

Becoming a Bell Maker: An Art and a Science 160

Cannon Founding and Government Contracting 173

Malleable Copper: Bolts, Spikes, and Technical Experimentation 187

6 Paul Revere's Last Ride: The Road to Rolling Copper (1798-1801) 204

The Early Federal Government and Benjamin Stoddert's Navy 206

The Tentative Growth of American Manufacturing 214

The Search for Sheathing 219

The Road to Rolling Copper 225

7 The Onset of Industrial Capitalism: Managerial and Labor Adaptations (1802-1811) 245

America's Transition to Industrial Capitalism 247

Investment Capital, Managerial Practices, and the Role of Government 253

The Changing Face of Labor 273

8 Becoming Industrial: Technological Innovations and Environmental Implications (1802-1811) 283

Technical Practices and Improvements 285

Standardization and a Tour of Revere's Product Lines 296

Revere and the Environment: Raw Material Shortages and Procurement Strategies 307

Conclusion 324

Industrial Dawn: Proto-industry Revisited 332

Tools of the Trade: Components of Revere's Success 335

The Pursuit of Happiness: Revere's Goals and Identity 340

Acknowledgments 345


1 Major Events in the Narratives of Paul Revere and America 349

2 Four Proto-industrial Production Factors and Major Linkages 351

3 Prevalent Craft and Industrial Practices in the Proto-industrial Period 352

4 Selected Revere Engravings 354

5 Furnace Startup Expenses for 1787-1788 355

6 April 1796 Payments to Faxon 356

7 Revere's Second Letter to Benjamin Stoddert, February 26, 1800 357

8 Employee Salaries, 1802-1806 359

9 Typical Stages in the Growth of a Large Technological System 360

Notes 361

Index 413

What People are Saying About This

Howard B. Rock

A path-breaking, very fine work of history. Martello spells out a theory of proto-industrialization that I believe will become incorporated into the work of American economic history and fills an important space in our understanding of America's transition to industrialization.

Howard B. Rock, Florida International University

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